Everything I learned about life changes, I learned from Peter Brady.

At one point, older brother Greg decides that he wants to get into the music business. However, the record company really thinks a group act would be better. Conveniently, Greg has a built-in group musical act waiting at home. So he decides to round up his brothers and step-sisters, with the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in his sights. He writes a nice little song “We Can Make The World A Whole Lot Brighter” and that is that. Until… Peter’s voice decides that it is time for puberty.

He can’t sing without his voice cracking horribly and noticeably. (Having been someone who has gone through “the change” and was around other males who also had their voices change, I have never heard of anyone who’s voice changed this violently or traumatically. But, it makes for good TV.) Greg sees his chance for stardom being dragged down once again by his oversized family. The whole family wants to kick Peter out of the band and Peter even starts to once again doubt himself and wonder if he is worthless. (He doesn’t know that some day he will be married to the winner of the first season of America’s Next Top Model.) All because things are changing for poor, hapless Peter. But in the end, Peter and the rest of the kids embrace the change and even thrive as they write a new song which incorporates Peter’s cracking voice and even has an ironic title, “Time to Change”.

See, change is good if you just embrace it. Just look at Peter Brady. Heck, the entire Brady Clan is a good example of working with what life gives you. When I look at them, the changes in my life seem so small by comparison.

For the next few months, my life is going to be a little bit different. Following the advice of Horace Greeley, I am going west. To Clarian IU Health West. To be honest, I am a little bit nervous. Okay, a lot nervous. In fact, I am so nervous, that I was extremely thankful that my boss needed to switch some shifts and she ended up taking my first shift today. (My motto is: why do today, what you can just pawn off on tomorrow.) My fear is only mildly irrational. I have been out to West multiple times before, including for a whole summer, and things went fine. The nurses are excellent, the other ancillary staff are very helpful as well and the patients and their families are great. Even the facilities are amazing.

All of the Clarian (darn it!) IU Health hospitals have their own feel to them. West is one of my favorite places to escape. To me, it is designed like a mountain retreat complete with running water and bridges in the center alcove, warm wood decor and soft piano and chime music playing continuously in the background. One of my favorite times is when it snows when I am at West. I go to the center alcove and watch the snow fall and imagine I am out somewhere in Utah or the Rockies. All my nerves and cares drift away with the calmness and serenity.

As idyllic as the work conditions are, there is still much work to be done. Unfortunately, they don’t pay me to stare out the window for the entirety of my 11 hour shift. And this is when the nerves kick in, because you are alone when you are out there. There is no one to “run something past” or do an occasional “Am I Crazy?” check with. As someone who is used to having residents, medical students and my partners around, it makes me nervous to be out on my own. Add on to it that some of the situations can be high-stakes (delivery attendance, late premature babies, an occasional transfer to the Riley PICU) and it makes me wonder if I am up to the challenge.

There are benefits to being out on your own. It is refreshing to get out there and get your hands dirty. Talking with nurses and families constantly. Pre-rounding and collecting my own vitals. Writing my own orders. Calling my own consults. It is like the liberation of going from a fourth year medical student to first year resident. Pure exhilaration. Plus, there is the added benefit of infinitely increased decision-making powers that you don’t get when you first graduate from medical school. I don’t know if I could do this all of the time, I would miss the energy and exuberance of the residents too much. But to get the chance to run my own show once in awhile is a nice treat.

In the end, I always enjoy my time spent out West. There have been good times and some very bad times, but in the end I think they have all made me a better doctor and clinician. It helps me get back to my roots and gets me to reach down deep inside and find parts of me that I forgot were there. But change, and the growth that comes from change, is not easy. Just ask Peter Brady. I just hope my voice can’t change a second time.


About ironsalsa

I'm just a man who likes to hear himself talk, yet pretends he can't stand himself.
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